It’s back-to-school time and that means all over town, parents are vowing that this year, they’ll finally be organized. There will be no more tears, threats, or lost field-trip permission slips. The kids will walk out the door with their completed homework and a healthy lunch snug in their backpacks.
Here are some hints to get your families a little closer to that nirvana of a stress-free school morning.
The ‘Launch Pad.’ The bloggers at OrganizedHome.com promote the idea of the Launch Pad: ensuring that each family member has his or her own dedicated space.
Find a spot near the door – maybe a bookshelf that you can clear out and instead insert big plastic dishpans, each in a different color for each family member. When each family member comes home, all their “stuff” – backpacks, car keys, papers – goes in each dishpan.
“Child comes home from school, tosses homework and lunch menus in her dishpan. Dad comes home and tosses paycheck, keys, billfold, receipts and pocket change into his dishpan. There things stay, safe and segregated, until they are needed next morning,” says OrganizedHome.com blogger Cynthia Ewer.
Calendars. The bigger, the better. It’s easier than ever to keep track of upcoming events and deadlines in your school’s online calendar, which you probably already know how to synch to your smartphone calendar app. But there’s something to be said for a big calendar on the kitchen wall – either paper or a whiteboard – with each family member’s events and deadlines written in their own shade of marker (maybe matching the Launch Pad dishpan!).
Sunday nights are a great time for a quick family meeting to discuss who needs to stay late at school, leave early for a dentist appointment or go to basketball practice – and who is driving whom. Put that information on the calendar too, so everyone knows what to expect.
Plan lunches. We know about the 40-packs of potato chips, juice boxes and granola bars available at all the big-box discount stories, but a steady diet of packed snacks is not the healthiest or most appetizing option – nor is a 30-day supply of homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches stacked in the freezer.
Again, cooking and parenting blogs can be a good resource: Bake and freeze a batch of pesto chicken veggie meatballs from the Super Healthy Kids website and pop a few – along with a dab of marinara sauce – in a zipper baggie with toothpicks. Make kabobs, as demonstrated on Delish.com. They can be stacked pieces of fruit and cheese, salami and cubes of carrots and celery, chicken with cooked potatoes and avocado.
No one is guaranteed a stress-free transition from summer to school, but spending 10 minutes a day to get organized is a big step toward it.